Memories of Brother Mike’s Through the Decades
Ask a group of alumni about a favorite memory of Stonehill, and, without a doubt, you’ll hear at least one story involving Brother Mike’s. During its heyday in the ’70s and ’80s, the O’Hara Hall bar was iconic—where classmates gathered for Thursday and Friday afternoon happy hours (known as the 180 Club), football games, mixers, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day and, of course, the 100 Days Celebration and the Senior Last Stand. In 2000, due to a number of reasons and changing attitudes, the Brother Mike’s of O’Hara Hall closed. Here, we travel down Memory Lane as we take a look at the popular spot through the decades.
Opening Day: Brother Mike’s Coffeehouse was established in April of 1970 in a “little-used recreation room in O’Hara Hall,” in part to keep students from driving and drinking, writes Rev. Richard Gribble, C.S.C., in Fulfilling a Dream, Stonehill College 1948-1998. Also, as the population of the College increased, this new pub was created to help thwart drinking in student rooms. The initial cost for the pub was $10,000, raised from within the community and the surrounding area.
Why a Coffeehouse? Along with pub-type events and mixers, Brother Mike’s also hosted non-alcohol-related activities. The coffeehouse idea was popular at the time—a setting where folk-type music was played and no alcohol was served. Special parties as well as Alumni and Admission department events were held at Brother Mike’s. The relaxed atmosphere was conducive to community discussions and movie viewings.
Popular Figure: The space was named after Brother Mike Massaro, C.S.C. [right], now Father Massaro, a popular campus figure responsible for the renovation of the O’Hara room.
On the Job: The Coffeehouse employed more than 60 Stonehill students, according to a descriptive study on Brother Mike’s conducted in 1974. Here, some students enjoy the bar employees party.
Final 100: 100 Days is a senior event that still takes place today, signifying the start of the last 100 days before graduation. It is traditionally celebrated at Brother Mike’s. Two students celebrate the event in 1976.
Where Everyone Knows Your Name: Brother Mike’s was much like the local neighborhood pub, a place where you could gather among friends and socialize.
As Fr. Gribble notes of the experience, “The most significant common denominator for Stonehill students of the 1980s was their experience of community.
Whether it was in a social connection at Brother Mike’s, a casual meeting on a Boston street corner, or a coincidental sharing of adjacent seats on a plane, bus or train, the bonds of friendship secured at Stonehill were unique.”
Anyone Up for Foosball? At Junior Night at the Bar in 1984, the foosball table was put to good use.
I.D. Required: In 1981, a memo from the executive director of Brother Mike’s explained that the coffeehouse would now serve as a membership club with all Stonehill students and faculty as members. The policy change required that all patrons of Brother Mike’s show a positive id at the door and his or her membership card in order to be admitted. Those who did not have sufficient proof of age would be denied admittance.
In 1984, a sign reminded everyone that Brother Mike’s checked ids at the door.
Reinventing Itself: When Massachusetts law raised the drinking age from 18 to 20 in 1979 and then to 21 in 1985, Brother Mike’s took a financial hit as potential customers fell from 100 percent to 25 percent of the student body. To reinvent itself, Brother Mike’s created new programming and events such as Thursday night all-ages events and later focused on 21-plus entertainment.
Clever Costume: Never too old to celebrate Halloween, students dressed up and headed to Brother Mike’s.
Sign Here: The Class of 1991 gave Brother Mike’s a new sign as its parting gift.
Last Call, Farewell to the Brother: This was the name of the final event held at Brother Mike’s in O’Hara. Alumni who were founders of Brother Mike’s and current students reminisced and celebrated. “It was a proper send-off, with lots of storytelling about the many nights spent in that room in O’Hara’s basement,” recalls Richard Kfoury ’00, who helped create Last Call and the t-shirt that marked the occasion.
[Above] Mike’s Snapshot: Brother Mike’s events through the years. [left to right] a 1975 photo from the Stonehill Archives and 1986 and 1984 photos from ACRES yearbooks.
Fun and Games “Playing foosball and three tickets for a dollar.”
—Timothy McDonnell ’77, former board of directors member, Brother Mike’s
Hey, Mr. D.J. “I had a D.J. shift at WSHL 91.3 Stonehill Rocking Radio on Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. Brother’s Mike’s would play WSHL on four loudspeakers, so I would take requests right from the bar via a pay phone outside the door.
That year was one of the best of my life. Brother Mike’s will never be forgotten.”
—Gregory Meallo ’81
On the Menu “Free corn and dogs.”
—Daniel Cronin ’99
Dancing the Night Away “I worked at Brother Mike’s and remember how packed it always was. I loved how it was the place to go, especially by the end of the night. The dancing was my favorite. I learned how to pour a proper beer there. Thanks to my job, we had this sign for Cape week..”
—Rebecca (Ricci) Simon ’95
Slushie Drinks “I worked there and was a master of the oasis machine..”
—Thomas Malvesti ’99
Lights Out “I was one of the last bartenders/managers to close down Brother Mike’s in 2000.”
—Michael Close ’00
Farewell “During the summer of 2000, construction had begun on transforming the old Brother Mike’s in O’Hara into rooms. A couple of friends and I did a ‘site visit.’ We walked around and reminisced. I grabbed a brick as a souvenir and still have it right next to my fireplace.”
—Brandon Hall ’02
A Social Scene: Since 2001, Brother Mike’s has been located in “The Hill,” downstairs in the Roche Dining Commons. It includes bar space, tables and a stage.
Trivia nights and karaoke are popular evenings at Brother Mike’s. With music serving as a big part of the atmosphere, Brother Mike’s hosts both professional and student bands and open mike nights. As in the past, themed holiday parties and events centered around major athletic games still take place there.
While there is no longer foosball, a pool table draws players and the occasional tournament. Appetizers, sandwiches, quesadillas, burgers, fries and pizza make up the menu. “We average 75-100 students here on Thursdays and 50-75 on Fridays,” says Jacob Petrarca, manager of Brother Mike’s, of the nights when the pub is open.
While the location may have changed, Brother Mike’s still works to provide a safe space for students to socialize and for those 21 and over to enjoy alcohol in an environment that does not require driving.
Says Petrarca, “We serve our patrons responsibly and have a great time here. And we constantly have innovative programming that is engaging.”
When Joanne (Scapellati) Protasewich ’77 saw our Facebook post asking for Brother Mike’s memories, she remembered she had this t-shirt from 40 years ago [below].
Designed by a member of the Class of ’78, the tee brings back a lot of memories for Protasewich. “I kept it because it’s sentimental,” she says.
Thinking of Brother Mike’s, she recalls how it was the “status job on campus” to be on the board of directors and how others made their living waiting on tables and bartending there.
The nights to remember, she says, were those when the bar featured a band. “Brother Mike’s was the go-to place on campus,” she adds.
Even today, when she and her classmates gather, they “re-hash and reminisce” about the times there. “The memories are still close to the surface.”